Monday, December 2, 2013


Today is the 2nd day of Advent.  What?  What in the world is Advent?  We talked about Advent at MOPS, last week.  Advent is the season of waiting with hope.  The preparing and waiting for the Christ child to be born.  Advent is often lost in the hustle and bustle of this season, as are many of the real purposes and meanings of Christmas.  Advent is a season to prepare our hearts for Christ and enjoy the time of waiting.  Waiting doesn't ever sound like much fun, though, does it?  Our society stresses busy, hurry, fast, go, go, go.  Waiting is boring.  But waiting can bring joy.  Waiting can bring peace.  Waiting with hope is worth the effort.  At MOPS, we planted paper white lilies to focus ourselves and also to have a way of teaching our children about the season of Advent.  The bulbs planted represent our hearts and our lives before Christ comes.  We place the bulbs in the dark and then wait.  The darkness is our lives before we welcome Christ.  It is cold & dark.  In 4 weeks time, the bulbs grow into beautiful, white flowers - just in time for Christmas.  This represents our hearts and lives with Christ in them!  We are now beautiful and white - the darkness is gone.  The wait is over.  We blossom with life.  In this way, we remember how Advent begins as a dry flaky bulb and ends as a blooming flower.  Thank you, God, for Christ at Christmas, may he bloom in our hearts.  "Therefore, be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.  The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains."  James 5:7

Mother's Advent Prayer
Dear God,
Help me to plan this beautiful Advent season with Your will for my family in my heart.  Deliver me from my desires to be the perfect mother, the craftiest mother, the most organized mother.  Deliver me from the desire to impress others with my clean house, cooking skills, perfect photos, and dazzling presents.  Keep me humble, and help me to lead my family towards You, even when it isn't the most popular way.  Even when others don't approve of my methods.  Even when I get funny looks or ridicule from people.  Stay with me through this season.  Help me to be patient and loving to my family, especially when tight schedules and busy hands create stress.  Help my family stay focused on You.  Even though Christmas is a lot of work for mothers, keep me prayerful, and remind me to offer up my struggles and sufferings.  help me to make good decisions, and to walk the narrow path.  Amen

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Being Thankful

Being Thankful

At the beginning of November, we see all kinds of people sharing how they are thankful or what they are thankful for.  I saw one Facebook post which stated - "November, the month that people who usually complain and whine on Facebook share how they are thankful."  That is meant to be a joke, but isn't there truth to it?  Yes, the month of November reminds us to be thankful and it is the month of Thanksgiving, but what if we actually WERE thankful?  What if we were thankful for the little things?  What if we were thankful for EVERYTHING?  
"For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving." 1 Timothy 4:4
As moms, our children look to us to show them how to see the world around us.  It is up to us to guide their attitude to the situation and circumstances around them.  When we are grateful for the little things, our attitude changes.  A miracle occurs.  It is God preforming this miracle, but our openness with a grateful heart that make is possible for Him.  Being a mom is messy.  We struggle and deal with messes all day, all the time.  How can our mess be beautiful?  It all depends on how we look at it.  How can baby food smeared all over the high chair, floor and walls be beautiful?  How can my tired, screaming baby in the middle of the grocery store be beautiful?  How can my life be beautiful when my child wakes me up at 5:30AM?  Consider being thankful for the food that is smeared all over the kitchen.  Being thankful for the voice and breath of that baby.  Being thankful for the warmth of your child's skin under the blankets in your bed (yes, at 5:30AM!).  
A few weeks ago, my daughter came home from school and was a nightmare!  She was crying and whining about EVERYTHING and was quite vocal about her discontent.  I could feel my anger rising.  I was very frustrated with her.  In that moment, I decided to try something new.  I decided to seek out what in the world I could be thankful for in that moment.  What could I POSSIBLY be thankful for in that moment?!  I sat down and voiced out loud to her what I was thankful for.  "I am thankful that my daughter has a voice and that she can speak.  I am thankful for the fact that my daughter feels comfortable enough in this home that she can let out her frustration."  She suddenly stopped crying and got quiet.  My anger ebbed and we gave one another a much needed hug.  The miracle occurs when you change your perspective and focus on what there is that IS beautiful in a messy situation.   As a mom, there are so many little things to be thankful for.  Little toes, that first smile that fills a baby's whole face, freshly washed baby hair & the sweet smell of that, warm snuggles under soft fleece blankets, the pride of a child learning to do something for the first time, the list goes on and on for us.  Consider opening yourself up to these miracles that God desires to give you.  Your life will still be messy, you are a mom!  But there is always some beauty to every mess.  
I have challenged our MOPS group to consider adding to their MOPS journals 5 'little things' that they are thankful for, today, right now, in the everyday mess that is their mommy lives.  Consider taking up this challenge.  A miracle awaits.
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."  Philippians 4:8

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

October - Raising Compassionate Kids

Raising Compassionate Kids

What is compassion?  Have you ever asked yourself that question?  Have you ever asked your kids what THEY think compassion is?  Here is what the dictionary says: Com.pas.sion (n) - Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it.  Our speaker, today, shared her son's definition of compassion:  "Compassion is feeling sorry for someone and wanting to help them." 
 Compassion is written about LOTS in the bible: 
 Ephesians 4:32 "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you."
1 Peter 3:8-9 "Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.  Do not repay eveil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing."
Philippians 2:1-5 "Do nothing our of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."
Many more passages call for us to be compassionate to others.  

Why teach compassion to our children?  We are called to do so.  
Proverbs 22:6 "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."
The second greatest commandment is to love others.  As moms, it is up to us to teach our children. 
 "God's character is embodied in the definition of compassion.  As our Creator, He desires us to be as compassionate as Him and show human kindness to others.  To be compassionate, we must have love in us that compels us to do good deeds.  if we do good deeds for someone, but we do not have love for that person, we are not compassionate."  (see 1 Corinthians 13:3)
There is a huge need for compassion in our world, today.  Our children will be the ones to carry on in the name of Jesus after us and take care for those who are less fortunate.

How do we teach compassion when we don't feel very compassionate?  Demonstrate compassionate responses - towards your children and towards others.  Lead by example.  Show them what it means to have compassion for others and how to act on that compassion.  Pray for God to fill you with His Spirit of love and care for others around you.  

We heard from Laura Helwig, child advocate for Compassion International.  She shared these thoughts with us.  She also shared the need to sponsor children through Compassion International.  North Shore MOPS red table has stepped up and followed God's leading to sponsor a child.  They will be doing this together as a group each month!  We are very excited to hear about their child and how they are doing this together as a team.  
In closing her talk about raising compassionate children, Laura shared what her daughter (8) said compassion meant to her: "Compassion is loving others like Jesus loves you."  May we raise our children to know what it is to have Jesus love them and also to love others that same way!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

North Shore MOPS Begins!

by Alexandra Kuykendall

     "The hospital is where the constancy of motherhood begins: there is no difference between night and day.  The baby needs to be fed every two hours.  The nurses flick on the lights in the middle of the night, making their nurse announcements about needing to check a vital sign or, worse, my stitches.
     That first night the nurses took Gabi to the nursery. "You sleep now, while you can, and let her be with us for a few hours.  We'll bring her in when she's hungry," they promised.  The idea that Mom needs to take care of herself to take care of the baby had started during pregnancy.  Eat the right things.  Don't eat the forbiddens.  Get sleep.  Avoid stress.  Drink water.  Continue to exercise.  Take care of yourself so you can take care of the baby.  Now the baby was out, no longer part of my body, and the nurse was telling me the same thing.  Take care of yourself so you can take care of the baby.
     And so I slept.  After what seemed like only five minutes, the light came on.  Really? It can't be time.  But I heard the cry.  The newborn cry that sounded so frantic, so awful to my ears, and made me sit straight up.  I now knew she was my baby.  My eyes started to tear, and I wanted to protect her, to stop that awful, painful scream.  There was relief in my response too.  I felt like the mom.  That bond must have been in there somewhere, because I couldn't wait to hold her.  I thanked God that something in my heart had clicked, had been opened, to know I'd been created for this.
     I looked over at Derek, who was still adjusting to the blinding light in the room.  Didn't he hear his baby's cry?  How scared she sounded?  He didn't seem to get it.  he wasn't jolted up like I was.
     "She's hungry," the nurse announced, and we started the new foreign process of trying to nurse.  This thing that was supposed to be so natural but in reality was so awkward.  By that point I'd lost all sense of modesty.  The gown came off, the pillows were arranged, and I tried to get that sweet but squawking baby to latch on.  I was sweating, I needed her to stop crying.  I wanted to do this right.  I wanted to give her what she needed.
     I'd uncovered a new kind of love.  A love that surpassed anything I'd ever felt before.  It consumed me from my bed head to my delivery-pedicured toes.  I was the mom.  I didn't come to that realization in the way I'd expected, but the result was the same: a mother was born."

All of the women who attend MOPS & MomsNext have at least one thing in common:  we are all moms.  We need to take care of ourselves so that we can take care of the children entrusted to us.  This is where MOPS & MomsNext comes in - we are here to take care of moms.  We give mom a chance to take a break, catch her breath, and have other moms to talk to.  As moms, we all need this!  Our MOPS year has begun.  Our first meeting was held on 9/10 and we had a great time.  We played a get-to-know-one-another game of "Have You Ever?" which turned out to be quite humorous and fun.  

The theme for this years MOPS year is "A Beautiful Mess: Embrace Your Story".  Being a mom is messy, yet, there is beauty in that call to be a mom.  We chose our table centerpieces for the year to be messy, yet, beautiful, just like mothering.

Part of the theme is "Embracing Your Story" so we are going to have journals throughout the year & will be using them at each meeting.  But, you can't just have boring old journals lying around, so we decorated ours!

As we begin the MOPS & MomsNext year, we reflect on the theme verse for the year: Ephesians 2:10
"For we are God's masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago."  
God created each of us to be mom to our child.  May we see that His work is good.  May we see that we are masterpieces, even though it is messy.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Summer is Over - Almost Time for MOPS to Begin!

We enjoyed our final play group of the summer, this week!  It is hard to believe that another MOPS / MomsNext year is about to begin.  We have had a busy summer getting the word about MOPS out there in the community.  We had a diaper changing station and information booth at Harmony by the Bay in June.  It was fun talking to all the moms and seeing some new faces.  I am not sure how many diapers were changed, but a number of moms heard about North Shore MOPS!  

We walked in the Waterfront Kids Parade which kicks off the Waterfront festivities in Menominee.  We handed out freeze pops and candy, as well as, cards sharing our information.  

Throughout the summer, we had weekly play groups at local parks.  It was a fun way to keep in touch with the moms during the summer.  

We had a steering team planning retreat early in June and decided what topics and speakers would be covered and then we met once per month to iron out details for our upcoming MOPS year.  

The theme is perfect for moms:
"A Beautiful Mess: Embrace Your Story" which is what we all live in as moms!  We are creating, growing, nurturing life in our children and that is almost always messy.  It may be messy but what a beautiful mess it is!  A Beautiful Mess reminds moms that beauty can come out of their difficult spots.  The grime of raising children brings the beauty of motherhood.  The bruises of life can bring God's redemption.  Embrace Your Story reminds moms that our past, present and future can be used for good.  God knows where each of us has been, where we are today and he has set in motion where we are headed.  

The theme verse is Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) "For we are God's masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."

Join us or let a mom know about how to join us!  September 10, 8:45 AM - 11:00 AM at North Shore Church.  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

3-12 Meeting a Success!

Our MOPS/MomsNext meeting of March 12 went great!  We had 22 moms and 20 MOPPETS.  There were 2 brand new to MOPS moms, today, which we LOVE to have new moms!

The moms made Jesus Bracelets today.  Here is the significance of each bead:
One night, a bright STAR
led THREE wise men to
the BIRTH of baby Jesus.
He was more than a  CARPENTER,
He was a FISHER of men.
He had TWELVE disciples,
He spoke the WORD of God,
HEALED the sick, and
performed many MIRACLES.
One DARK day, He was CRUCIFIED.
He shed His BLOOD so we could be made CLEAN.
Now He is in HEAVEN with His father,
preparing a place for His people.
He left us His HOLY SPIRIT.
Jesus did this because of His
immense LOVE for us.

Here are the verses that go along with the bracelet:
Matthew 2:7,9-11
Matthew 13:55
Matthew 4:19
Matthew 10:1-4
Luke 4:1-14
Mark 1:29-34
Mark 4:35-41
Matthew 27:45
Mark 15:23-25
Romans 3:25-26
John 14:1-3
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
John 3:16-17

Each mom left with a bracelet and the scripture to back it up.